By definition, there is much at stake for every player, every coach and every management person during the playoffs. Careers can be made or derailed. Reputations that will last a lifetime can be established, for better or worse. Jobs can be secured or lost.

There is no Ranger with more personally at stake in this tournament than Brad Richards. When the bell rings on Round 1 against the Flyers on Thursday at the Garden, the 2004 Stanley Cup champion and Conn Smythe Trophy winner could be entering his final days wearing the Blueshirt, though just one-third of the way through his nine-year contract.

For there is the possibility, if not the likelihood, of an amnesty buyout in June driven by the introduction into the collective bargaining agreement of the punitive cap-recapture measure that stands to damage the Rangers if Richards does not complete the contract. And this June represents the final opportunity for teams to trigger amnesty buyouts.

But Richards told The Post following Tuesday’s practice his contract situation is secondary to his ambition to win another Cup, 10 years after he and current teammate Marty St. Louis hoisted the chalice for Tampa Bay.

“It’s been in the back of my mind to a certain extent, it would be a lie if I said it wasn’t there,” the 33-year-old center said. “But it’s not affecting me or weighing on me, or having any impact on my preparation or my game.